Princess Fiona after sunset / SUN 10-8-17 / Brand two time nba all star / Sculptor collagist Jean

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Constructor: Erik Agard and Alex Briñas

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: "Power Ballads" — clues are all [some superhero's favorite band/singer] and then there's some apt jokey answer. Final themer imagines them all together for a SUPERGROUP (114A: What the musical artists in this upzzle would form if they performed together?) (because they're super ... heroes ... YA DIG?)

Theme answers:
  • BILLY OCEAN (23A: Aquaman's favorite singer?)
  • ARCADE FIRE (25A: The Human Torch's favorite band?)
  • GREEN DAY (35A: The Hulk's favorite band?)
  • COLDPLAY (44A: Iceman's favorite band?)
  • TAYLOR SWIFT (55A: The Flash's favorite singer?)
  • METALLICA (68A: Magneto's favorite band?)
  • THE SPINNERS (78A: Spider-Man's favorite band?)
  • LIL WAYNE (89A: Batman's favorite rapper?)
  • MC HAMMER (99A: Thor's favorite rapper?)
  • FRANK ZAPPA (112A: Electro's favorite singer?)
Word of the Day: ELTON Brand (49D: ___ Brand, two-time N.B.A. All-Star) —
Elton Tyron Brand (born March 11, 1979) is an American retired professional basketball player. After playing college basketball for Duke, he was selected with the first overall pick in the 1999 NBA draft by the Chicago Bulls, and later played for the Philadelphia 76ers, the Los Angeles Clippers, Dallas Mavericks and Atlanta Hawks. A two-time NBA All Star and an All-NBA Second Team selection in 2006, Brand is currently the General manager of the Delaware 87ers. (wikipedia)
• • •

I was in Ithaca tonight seeing Maria Bamford, so I did not see the Sunday puzzle when it first came out. Early tweets about it suggested it wasn't the greatest, so I was not looking forward to getting home late and having to solve Yet Another tedious Sunday. But honestly, this one seems far less tedious than average, esp. of late. I mean, it was very easy, and conceptually simple, but it worked. It wasn't inconsistent. It had a solid final answer / punchline (I wouldn't really call it a "revealer"). My only real issue with the theme was: who the hell is Iceman? All the other heroes are pretty famous. Half of them are downright iconic. But I teach a course on Comics and don't even know what an "Iceman" is. Oh, I see he is in fact one of the original X-Men. If I cared about / paid attention to Marvel more, I'd surely know that. Anyway, my not knowing Iceman hardly affected my pleasure—I just accepted that Iceman existed and COLDPLAY was obvious, and on I went. The fill in this one was pretty good, especially for a theme this dense. SAN FRAN! (38D: City by the Bay, informally) That clue on ALLEGEDLY! (3D: [legally covering our butts here]). I dunno ... it felt about what I wish an average Sunday puzzle were—a pleasant, living-in-this-century, competently-executed diversion.

Here were my main trouble spots (they weren't that troubling, for the record):

When I started, I couldn't get TSA (1A: Agcy. for Kennedy and Reagan) or TABS (1D: Things the police may keep on suspects), and thought "uh oh, this isn't promising." Kennedy and Reagan are airports! Who knew? I mean, I knew ... but I didn't know when first reading this clue ... you get the idea. Later clues were not so befuddling. I just wrote in PREGNANT at 28A: With child, informally, neglecting the "informally." I find the word PREGGERS off-puttingly cutesy, so my brain will do anything to keep me from having to deal with it, including causing me to misread clues. Anyway, PREGNANT caused SEDATE instead of SERENE (10D: Untroubled), so that took a little time undoing. But NAY / "YA DIG?" was by far the toughest and most baffling, both because the clue on NAY was inscrutable (93A: Not only that but also) and because "YA" is not a "word" I am used to "spelling." I hear "Feel me?" in other people's conversations, but "YA DIG?" less so. Anyway, I had to get that section right down to the last letter before I finally threw in the "Y."  I had RECALIBRATE for RECALCULATE (67D: What 14-Across will do if you miss a turn) and despite years of practicing yoga I totally blanked on TREE pose. Whoops (109D: What the upright yoga pose vrikshasana simulates).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Canon Chasuble 12:29 AM  

Either I'm mellowing, or I'm in a great mood, because for the first time in many weeks I enjoyed the Sunday Puzzle. It wasn't great, but it was the most enjoyable Sunday in quite a while. I have heard OF the musical groups and singers, but my tastes are such that I don't think I've heard any music BY them. But the fill was pretty fun, and it all came together rather quickly. Two answers (63d and 119a) were uncomfortably familiar because they were in Saturday's Puzzle also, a coincidence that should not have happened. On Saturday, Fiona was an ogress (an ugly word), but this morning she's back to being an ogre. Three unexpected and un-Times like answers were 28a, 32a and 39d. 90d was so old and corny that it was almost funny. I had the same answer for 105d and 110d, and thought that was a Times first until the penny dropped! Good to see two good English clues: stone and magneto. A broken magneto is a standard plot device for many English mystery novels from the 1920s and 1930s.

tbd88 12:47 AM  

A little on the cutesy side for my taste, but surprisingly solid overall.

Joe Dipinto 12:52 AM  

Four repeated answers from Saturday: ALOHA OE, OWIE, STOP, and Princess Fiona turning from an OGRESS into an OGRE. I think that's the most duplication on consecutive days I've ever seen.

Robin 12:54 AM  

Thought the theme was ho-hum seen it before. Whatever.

The NAY/YADIG cross was my bane. Still don't understand the NAY clueing, and have yet to hear "Feel me?" in any conversation.

What teed me off, though, was that there were three clues/answers or close variations thereof that that were in Saturday's puzzle — ALOE_OE, OGRE and OWIE. The repetition of ALOHA_OE in consecutive puzzles was, I though, boggling, and OGRESS/OGRE almost so. Aren't editors supposed to watch out for that sort of thing?

Joe Dipinto 1:05 AM  

"It was very unpleasant -- nay, it was atrocious!"

Anonymous 1:07 AM  

I'm hardly a puzzle whiz, but found this so easy that I was bored. And the theme clues were lame. Really a disappointment.

Joe Dipinto 1:19 AM  

Re my 1:05 post -- that wasn't my opinion of the puzzle, I was just giving an example of the NAY clue in a sentence. (Ya dig?)

puzzlehoarder 1:25 AM  

PAD? ALASKA? Why does yesterday seem so long ago? It all makes the unusually high level of repetition between the two puzzles all the more ironic. BTW OGRE is the PC term for OGRESS.

jae 1:59 AM  

Very easy and mildly amusing. I knew all the groups so there were no real hangs up.
Although, I've seen the clue for ASTON Martin countless times and I still spell it with an I.

@Rex a pleasant Sun. for me too, liked it.

Joe Dipinto 2:01 AM  

So, at X-WORD info the constructors gave clues for ultimately discarded entries. I got two so far:

[Human Torch's favorite band?] (3,7,4)

[Blade's favorite band?] (7,7)

[Wonder Twins' favorite band?] (5)

[Storm's favorite rapper?] (6)

[Beast's favorite singer?] (6)

[Wolverine's favorite guitarist?] (5)

[Lady Deathstrike's favorite band?] (13)

[Banshee's favorite band?] (5,5)

Dawn 2:13 AM  

Amusing and competently executed theme. Easy but not a drag, which is saying a lot for Sunday. The clue for NAY was ridiculous. The clue for PAD...meh. I'm surprised at the poor editing job on so many repeat words on consecutive days.

chefwen 2:17 AM  

OH WOW, it's good to be home! Missed y'all, did you play nice while I was gone? Wasn't always easy to find a paper so I have some caching up to do.

I thought this was a fun one. ARCADE FIRE and GREEN DAY were unknown and had to be filled with crosses, the other groups were fairly easy to get.

Rolled my eyes with PAD 32A. That doesn't come close to passing the breakfast test. SERIOUSLY?

chefwen 2:19 AM  

These would be easier to do if I learned how to spell, let's try catching.

Joe Dipinto 2:34 AM  

@me 2:01:

[Wonder Twins' favorite band?] (5)

'mericans in Paris 3:12 AM  

Hi @chefwen, welcome back! ALOHA OE!

Wow, my brain must be wired differently than @Rex's. He hated last Sunday's and liked today's. I had the opposite opinions. I thought the theme in particular was lame. None of the theme answers even brought a smile to my face, especially the ones that were stretched, like FRANK ZAPPA as Electro's favorite singer. My junior high school punster buddy could have done better.

Perhaps I'm being picky, but there would be no SUPER GROUP if all the musical artists in the puzzle performed together (114A). Some (e.g., CASS, ZAPPA) went into "post retirement" a long time ago. And of those who are still among living, their styles are all over the map. More likely they would form the musical equivalent of canned alphabet soup. Penne ALLA Spam indeed. The only thing interesting about it would be to watch the titanic tussles of their egos.

OK, perhaps I'm taking the puzzle too seriously. I should be glad I (Mrs. 'mericans is States-side) finished it without Naticking, as I fully expected I would in the far NW. Pretty brutal having so many proper names crossing in one place. GRR. YOW. OWIE.

The fill, IMHO was very mixed. Some of the cluing was good, such as "1A. Agcy. for Kennedy and Reagan", but some just plain plain, such as "110D. It's worth a little more than a dollar."

The one area of the puzzle that did make me smile was the mid-Atlantic area, where one can see STONE COLD over I WON'T, and FOUR connecting with PLAY on top of MATE. (Yes, I know it's spelled forePLAY; just sayin.)

As an ASIDE, but still on the theme of performers, last night I saw Diana Krall in concert. OOH, magic. Most of her family was there, including Elvis Costello. Just before one of her encore pieces, she announced that Mel Brooks was in the audience. He's old, but not yet in post retirement. At the end of the concert I got close enough to shout to him, "Mr. Brooks, your movies are the best!". Without missing a beat, he turned back towards me and in his quintessential Mel Brooks voice said, "You have no taste!!"

Larry Gilstrap 3:43 AM  

I know musical groups from many eras and most genres, but my knowledge of SUPER heroes is sketchy. I was reluctant to accept the themers on face value, assuming there was more of a connection to the clues than I spotted. For example, The Flash is SWIFT? That's it? What does TAYLOR have to do with it? Am I missing something? People seem to clamor for theme consistency on a regular basis, which I'm not sure I see on display here.

I used to teach dictionary skills and a word's ETYMOLOGY is often a window into its subtlety. I still keep my Merriam Webster around just for the final authority.

Psalm 23 is built around an extended metaphor: the Lord is a shepherd. "THY ROD and THY staff" are two distinct objects. The ROD is a weapon used to provide protection for the flock from predators. The staff, you know, that crooked thing the shepherd carries is designed to provide guidance for those who stray. "They comfort me" because they are the tools used by my benevolent protector. In some world the two may be synonymous, but not in the King James Version.

Sunday puzzles can be tedious, have you noticed. Why wasn't this one?

Rachel 5:32 AM  

I enjoyed this puzzle well enough, but like a few people have already mentioned the repeat answers from yesterday were pretty glaring–especially having ALOHAOE & princess Fiona appearing two days in a row. ICEMAN/Bobby Drake has been in I think four of the X-Men movies, so I didn't think of him as an obscure character (also, the character came out as gay in the comics a year or two ago, which is pretty cool)! Overall a fun, if not particularly thrilling, Sunday for me.

Mark 6:26 AM  

I was stumped by the seenote and Tony cross. What is a seenote and how does "comment advising you to set your sights a little lower" mean seenote?

Alexander 6:41 AM  

To literally move your eyes down the page and read the “Note:” at the bottom

Sue 7:05 AM  

Gotta say-- I thought this was sooooo boring! I'm surprised so many people, including Rex, kinda liked this one.

Sir Hillary 7:25 AM  

This was a fun Sunday puzzle -- cute theme, lots of theme answers, some excellent long downs, decent enough fill overall, easy enough not to be a slog.

PREnatal? PREGnant? Ah, PREGGERS.

The clue for SACREDCOW made me chuckle. The clue for PAD? Um, no thanks.

The repeats from yesterday don't bother me, although I find it odd that Fiona was used to clue both OGRESS and OGRE.

STEFAN Edberg was a joy to watch back in the day. No one ever got to the net quicker after a serve.

Wish more Sundays were like this.

Muscato 7:30 AM  

Clever, but so, so easy - if the app is to be believed, my fastest Sunday ever (and five minutes faster than Saturday, which just seems to upturn the rules of nature...). I kept thinking that there would be something more complicated than this-band-name-has-a-relation-to-this-superpower, but finally just gave in and filled the grid. FAA for TSA slowed me down a tad, as did GNPS for GDPS, but that was about it, hiccup-wise.

chefbea 7:33 AM  

What a boring Sunday puzzle ...again!!! Did not know some of the groups or super heroes.

Why is uptown - tony???

Hungry Mother 7:44 AM  

Played easy for me also. The theme was OK. Seeing ALOHAOE again was a shock to me, also.

Anonymous 7:46 AM  

I usually have to work hard on Sundays but this one I breezed through in under 30 minutes. I think OFL might have been a bit
tired after a long day.

r.alphbunker 7:59 AM  

Wow. If I were a constructor wanting to increase my chances of getting a positive review out of Rex Parker connecting comic book characters with rock groups would definitely be something to try.

Details of my solution are here.

Anonymous 8:09 AM  

@Larry Gilstrap - it ain't the King James, but in the world of wieners, rod and staff are synonyms.

@Chefbea - "tony" is the adjective shortened from "high-toned," meaning either really having or having pretensions to "class." "Uptown" has the same meaning due to New York City social division between up and down - see note re Billy Joel song "Uptown Girl." Had he been a Philadelphian, it would have been "Mainline Girl."

Anonymous 8:20 AM  

This puzzle was certainly easy enough to fill save for some squares. But I disliked it. The bands and comics characters mean nothing to me. Though I have heard of the bands (at least some of them) I could not recognize a song by any of them even if my life depended on it.
Even after reading Rex explanation of the theme, I still don't understand the cuteness factor behind it. And I don't care

Anonymous 8:32 AM  

From Warren Zevon's "Mr. Bad Example":

Then on to Monte Carlo to play chemin de fer
I threw away the fortune I made transplanting hair
I put my last few francs down on a prostitute
Who took me up to her room to perform the flag salute

Whereupon I stole her passport and her wig
And headed for the airport and the midnight flight, ya dig?
And fourteen hours later I was down in Adelaide
Looking through the want ads sipping Fosters in the shade


ghthree 8:34 AM  

I agree with Larry Gilstrap: Rod and staff are not synonyms. But it reminded me of a comment I saw on TV a few years back when a congressman was accused of having an affair with one of his aides: "Thou shall not comfort thy rod with thy staff."

Anonymous 8:49 AM  

Anyone else stick in FRANK OCEAN in that first theme spot and then have no idea what to do with the NW? #millenialproblems

GHarris 8:58 AM  

I know one is expected to learn from doing puzzles and store the acquired knowledge for future use. Just didn't expect it to happen so quickly in the case of aloha oe.

Birchbark 9:04 AM  

@Mark, SEENOTE = See note, i.e., read the fine print below.

We do sometimes see clues or answers that appeared during the week make a reprise in Sunday puzzles. I hadn't thought of it as poor editing, more of a tip of the hat to what came before or an inside joke for daily solvers. Some of the accepted traits that distinguish good from bad crosswords can seem arbitrary.

This solved extra quickly and felt like a supersized Monday -- quite a contrast to yesterday's magnum opus.

Dan Steele 9:07 AM  

Wow. Who ARE you people? Sunday after Sunday, no effort is good enough. And THIS is the one that brings you together? Ugh, I'm not sure I remember a more boring puzzle ever. Just me, I guess.

Anonymous 9:10 AM  

I had "make you late" for 67 down. Petty funny. The rest feel into place rather easily.

HB 9:13 AM  

The NW corner took some work: I knew neither STEFAN Edberg nor ALFRE Woodard (eventually guessed the F correctly), and I also wanted to enter dannyOCEAN instead of BILLY but held off until I got the crosses. Like Rex, I stumbled a bit at NAY, but YADIG was actually the clue that pulled me out of it. Otherwise, very easy Sunday. (The theme was fine, I guess.)

Ryan 9:36 AM  

Banshee's favorite band is SONIC YOUTH

mmorgan 9:36 AM  

I only knew FRANK ZAPPA (but I've heard of TAYLOR SWIFT). All the other bands/musicians were completely unknown to me and yet this was probably the fastest Sunday I've ever done. (I don't time myself but it was probably about 15-20 minutes.) After a slightly rocky start in the NW (wasn't thinking airports, couldn't see how it could be TSA), the whole thing just filled itself in like butter. Much to like!

GILL I. 9:49 AM  

Boom MIC?..Had BOX. "Stay in your LANE?"...Had SEAT. And so it went.
First groan: PREGGERS. Put that in the same category as "WE'RE pregnant." No...I'M the one carrying around an extra 60 lbs. First laugh: PAD. I guess Tampax would be too risque?
What a way to clue 81D for ROME. YMA and UMA can't live without each other. SON OF A is missing its gun. SAN FRAN is missing its cisco. REESE is missing his pieces and Fiona was missing her SS.
@ghthree. Thank you for my morning LOL.
@Dan Steele. I'm with you. This was incredibly boring. Like @'mericans in Paris said, I thought last Sunday was a lot more fun.
@chefwen. I missed you but I bet you had the time of your life....!
I'm off to feed the hungry. Ciao.

Wm. C. 9:55 AM  

This was an inappropriate puzzle "theme" for many of us, who are not into pop bands. Particularly when joined with a tough joining word. I was able to finish with the crosses, and I assume these were intentionally made easier because of my earlier complaint. What a waste of a Sunday! Shame on Shortz once again!

Nancy 10:08 AM  

Do I even need to write this? You all know what I'm going to say, don't you? For me, this is about as bad as it ever gets, puzzle-wise (though I can't say it's especially hard), but I'm bored and I don't care about the pop bands and, a bit more than halfway through, which is a lot more than the puzzle deserved, I'm outta here.

kitshef 10:09 AM  

Theme was interesting, and uncharacteristically I knew all the bands, though I could not name a song by ARCADE FIRE, COLDPLAY or LIL WAYNE. Fill was fine. Clues were much too straightforward. Unlike most Sundays, there was not time to get bored as the whole thing was done in a FLASH. Seriously, I started when mrsshef started meditating and finished before her, meaning less than fifteen minutes, guggle to zatch. Following on the heels of yesterday's marathon solve it felt even faster.

As part of a work team-building exercise last week we had to name our favorite band. We had less than a minute to come up with an answer, and I would up with GREEN DAY. If I had had more time, I think it would have been Simon and Garunkel, but it is also very possible I'm missing someone better. Curiously, about a third of the people in the room said the Beach Boys ... in a group where ages range fairly continuously from 22 to 62.

BarbieBarbie 10:12 AM  

Thanks, @Ryan. I couldn't get past The Wailers, which has the wrong letter counts.

I agree with the ROD/ staff dissenters.

This puzzle was way too easy. I deliberately tried to stretch it out, but it insisted on filling itself in quickly. And the variety puzzles still include that awful Boxing Match, plus a Cryptic, which is always stupid. In for a grumpy Sunday! I GUESS I could do something useful like cleanthe turtle tanks...

Nancy 10:14 AM  

@chefwen (2:17 a.m) -- It's not just 32A that doesn't pass the breakfast test. I was even more put off my feed, if possible, by 117A.

BarbieBarbie 10:15 AM  

@kitshef, you brightened my day with the Thirteen Clocksreference! Hadn't thought of that in years. I wonder what happened to my parents' copy. Something something kittens insides out mittens..... thanks!

QuasiMojo 10:22 AM  

Bye @Nancy. I almost quit halfway too but wanted to see what the revealer was. I hope you are enjoying your quiet Sunday at home.

Like MrMorgan I only knew Frank Zappa (if you discount Taylor Swift who is unfortunately ubiquitous even if you never listen to pop music.) Since when is The Spinners a band? Or am I thinking of some previous incarnation with that name?

I'm shocked that a professor of comic books has never heard of Iceman. I don't think I've ever actually read a comic book but even I've heard of him.

I nearly had a DNF because I had MOI? instead of DO I? for the person with something on his face.

Remember when just the word PREGNANT was bleeped on TV?

Oh, and I am really, truly, madly offended by the use of ORIENTAL in the New York Times. NAY.

I'm going to try the WSJ weekend puzzle now and hopefully find something worth pondering.

David Schinnerer 10:30 AM  

A: Mike teaches a class in comic books, but doesn’t “pay attention” to Marvel? I suppose if he taught Music Appreciation he wouldn’t “pay attention” to Bach. Some well rounded education those students must be receiving. Wait, they are studying comic books, never mind.

B: I enjoy most every puzzle, just because it is a little respite from my daily life and all the horrible shit happening out there. Someone took the time to provide me positive entertainment...then I come here to share in the thoughts of the “community” of solvers. It’s always such a pleasant experience reading the vitriol from Mike and the other assumed experts here. Just proves the old saying (that I just made up)
“Those who Those who can’t... just sit and criticize others efforts”.

Anonymous 10:37 AM  

A fine puzzle as an intro to a late and rainy Sunday morning. Aloha oe twice in a row?! Now committed to long term memory. For you Zappa fans, I’m now searching for my lonely dental floss. Yippie yo ti yay!

Tarheeled 10:54 AM  

Super easy for me. Circa 50 minutes with one write over. I knew a few of the band references. Taylor Swift is ever in the news and an old friend of years ago did a lovely portrait of Frank Zappa in cross stitch. Very impressive. My preferred music is the Three B's and friends on NPR. The rest filled in easily. Kinda boring as a result. Lotsa TV sports this afternoon to while away the rest of the day!

Robert A. Simon 11:05 AM  

I had fun, and fun is the one thing that money can't buy--the, uh, cost of the subscription notwithstanding.

Amy 11:54 AM  

A rare Sunday finish for me so must be ... super easy. I laughed at Zappa.

David Schinnerer 11:55 AM  

And in re-reading various posts...”waah...didn’t like it because I don’t know superheroes”...”waah” didn’t like it because I don’t know pop music”.

So I enjoy sports, movies, hiking/camping, golfing. Can ALL puzzles be ONLY about these things in the future? Then I can be happy every week.

P.S. an Oriental rug is a thing, just like a Persian rug. A perfect example of PC Language. Maybe that’s the next hot change the name of that type of rug...Quasimojo it’s all yours.

And Nancy, are you actually Mike’s wife? You two were made for each other. I look forward to solving the next puzzle YOU create. Yeah, didn’t think so.

Two Ponies 11:57 AM  

@ chefwen, Welcome back. You missed some "colorful" discussions while you were away but probably not worth reading. It was all the usual crap.

Evidently having the good manners to say Yes'm is now quaint.
An atlas is old fashioned? Oh yes, a quaint thing called a book.
I have an antique two-man saw hanging on my wall.

I don't know the song with Dinah blowing a horn but someone's in the kitchen strummin' on the ol' banjo.

Yesterday we had condom and today pad. Is all this necessary?

The overall feel today was certainly informal. So many conversational clues, trendy answers like preggers, and a comic book theme. I guess if you are in the right mood it might be fun.

@ 'merican, Great Mel Brooks story.

@ Anon 10:37, Your dental floss is out here in Montana.

Frayed Knot 12:01 PM  

Having ALOHA OE in Saturday's puzzle is the only reason I got it in Sunday's.
Had never heard of it 24 hours ago and now it's chasing me around.

Other than starting out right at 1A/1D with FAA and FILE this went rather quickly - and even that goof only delayed things half a minute or so.

The C and M in CEMENTED / CARO / TEMPUS were the last dominos to fall since I didn't know CARO or TEMPUS and for some reason CEMENTED wasn't coming to me.

Carola 12:01 PM  

Agree on "Easy." Like some others, I couldn't say if I've ever heard any of the singers' or bands' music (do any CROON?), but I'd heard of all but BILLY OCEAN, and the crosses revealed the names quickly. I had to come here to understand why the GROUP would be SUPER.
Unlike some others, my favorite entry was NAY. Genius clue, I thought.
Liked the crosses of FREEZE x ZERO, GPS x GOING PLACES, PLAY x A-TEAM, and MUD PIE x RUE (depending on number of pieces eateh).

@Gill I. - Amen on DECRYing "We're pregnant"!

Alan_S. 12:10 PM  

Really? Never heard "feel me?"; apparently you never spent any time in the inner city or watched "The Wire"

Kath320 12:11 PM  

So fun to answer 36D while living in Santa Rosa!

RooMonster 12:11 PM  

Hey All !
Holy LIL WAYNE, Batman!
Thought this was a neat puz. Favs were MCHAMMER and METALLICA.

A funky 4-block cube in NE/SW. Looks like the puz is PREGGERS. Heard that female direction giver voice in my head as I wrote in RECALCULATE. Funny to see YMA in as @Z's comments a few days ago kept referring to her.

YESM, no thanks. I WONT accept it. PAD clue, pick. How about Steno, e.g. as a clue?

Did like center section. Tough to pull off with three themers and long Downs. AT A GUESS seems off. Did like DECRY, word seldom seen.

Overall, a nice, easy-ish SunPuz. A SWIFTly WOLFS ASIDE. FOR REAL.


RAD2626 12:12 PM  

Very easy. Even the rappers were household names. Missed fastest Sunday time by less than a minute. But had a stupid DNF. Of course I know who YMA Sumac is. If you do puzzles for a month you learn the name. But I froze up and put in YsA because I thought a ROsE should be part of a grand tour for some unknown reason. Phooey.

@'Mericans in Paris Mel Brooks' story reminded me of my favorite quintessential New York moment which fits this time of year. Sitting behind home plate during a Yankees' World Series game in the late 90's I watched Spike Lee work his way down the aisle between innings to see Lorne Michaels. A leatherlung from a section over stood up and yelled "HEY, SPIKE LEE, SPIKE LEE". Lee ignoring him only made him more insistent. "HEY, SPIKE LEE. OVER HERE. SPIKE LEE. HEY". Lee finally stopped and turned toward the seeming fan. The fan waved and in the same booming voice yelled, "HEY, SPIKE LEE. YOUR MOVIES SUCK!" Just a great moment.

Masked and Anonymous 12:22 PM  

M&A dunno squat about the modern world of superhero characters. The M&A Research Dept. does point out however that this here puz "supergroup" has been infiltrated by at least a couple of supervillains: Magneto and Electro. Plus YMA Sumac, which could maybe be Poison Ivy's fave singer, I reckon. I think I saw that Ivy gal in some Batman flick, one time. Talkin UMA Thurman role, as I recall.

Lotsa great fillins, and some of the lingo slanted slangy and young, like the constructioneers. Pretty much fun overall. Had at least heard of most of the superheroes, from Marvel flick trailer previews, old comic books, etc. My fave superhero was always Plastic Man. Never owned a Plastic Man comic book, but read a few while at the barber shop. He was both strong and unbelievably elastic. Could wrap his arms plumb around aircraft carriers, and such. And … AND … check it out … his sidekick was named Woozy Winks, dudes & darlins. Rodeo!

Nice desperate collection of weejects, what with: COL. DOI. GRR. SEI. EDS. Kinda partial to DOI. Better cluin, of course, would be to stick with comic characters: {Duck brother of HOI and LOI??}. Ah, yes … the Carl Barks Disney ducks … M&A's fave superheroes.

Thanx, Masters Agard & Brinas. Fluffy and eazy-E gridtrip.

Masked & Anonym007Us


Jamie C 12:23 PM  

Have a Russian River Consecration for me, would ya?

Anonymous 12:25 PM  

You've turned into a whiny asshole, Nancy.

Stanley Hudson 12:28 PM  

A pleasant LIL puzzle, enjoyment enhanced by a large Bloody Mary and a puff or two of GREEN sativa.

Churlish Nabob 12:32 PM  

Nancy as Sharp’s wife? The thought of those two power whiners coupling? Now THAT doesn’t pass the breakfast test.

CDilly52 12:36 PM  

And Amen and AMEN!!

Alan_S. 12:41 PM  

Never even lifted pen from paper and easily beat my record time (I don't really keep time but if I did this would have been my fastest by half), so maybe too easy. Didn't have a chance to get bored and found the theme(?) a little lame, but overall, not a bad Sunday. Just would rather spend a little more time with my puz on a Saturday morning.

Anonymous 12:45 PM  

Thanks! Lol. Knew I left it under big sky.

G. Weissman 12:55 PM  

Better answer for 68A would be MAGNETIC FIELDS. Theme answers seemed so dumb that I nearly put puzzle aside, but LIL WAYNE and FRANK ZAPPA are fun. There must be a way to avoid 42A-type answers that basically say: I couldn't make a puzzle limiting myself to all the words in the English language + all the foreign words that have entered into semi-common usage in English.

old timer 1:00 PM  

I agree with OFL today. Easy, fairly amusing, and I have at least heard of most of the rappers, etc. Heard ZAPPA a lot back in the day and enjoyed his book about how to put bands together. Only mistake was to write in "Ave." for Oriental, on the theory that all puzzle composers wasted part of their youths playing Monopoly. I played it literally before I could read.

I wonder if there is a dichotomy between those who have or have not had children. If you are the parent of girls, and we were, PAD and other menstrual items had better pass your breakfast test. You will buy them and you will have to dispose of them when taking out the garbage. Best not to be too squeamish.

G. Weissman 1:04 PM  

Here's the problem with this puzzle: the theme answers are mostly just dumb. Awuaman's fave singer is Billy Ocean because ... his last name is ocean, and Aquaman lives in the ocean? That's just dumb word association, e.g. The Flash runs super fast ... fast ... swift ... Taylor Swift. Ugh. Now think about possibilities that would actually work on multiple levels, such as:

Atman's favorite band

G. Weissman 1:05 PM  

Make that Antman.

Geophany 1:15 PM  

More a fill-in-the blanks exercise than a puzzle. Those are ok but need humor or an uncanny element to be satisfying.

Chance 1:18 PM  

You teach a course on comics and you don't know Iceman? Iceman from the 1960s? Iceman, from the histrionic brain blasts of Stan the man Lee himself? iceman, who's been one of Spider-Man's friends on an animated show? iceman, who was in several of the X-Men movies? Iceman, the original X-Man and Omega level mutant?

Well, no one can know everything.

I loved this puzzle because I am a nerd.

I thought the YMA and UMA answers would get a mention, or at least that ALOHA 'OE was an answer *just yesterday.*

My fastest time yet! Because, again, I'm a nerd.

Anonymous 1:31 PM  

Got stuck in the NE corner by putting down FRANK OCEAN. Nobody else? I'm feeling downright young and current in this group then. And pretty sure 32A was intentional. We ladies use feminine hygiene projects. FOR PERIODS. *gasp*

Nancy 1:47 PM  

I'm sure that the extremely unpleasant snark directed at me today has everything to do with my political comment of yesterday and nothing whatsoever to do with my dislike of today's puzzle. I do hope you will all agree that I an entitled to dislike a puzzle with a pop band theme, without either being considered "whiny" or else being -- heaven forfend, can you even imagine such a thing? -- forced into a shotgun marriage to OFL.

There are more than a few charming men on this blog that I might be tempted to run off into the sunset with. I can assure you that Michael/Rex isn't one of them. You can take that to the bank.

evil doug 1:58 PM  

I'm flattered, but I'm already spoken for, Nancy.

Anonymous 2:12 PM  

Q: If Mississippi wore Georgia's New Jersey, what would Delaware?

A: Idaho, Alaska.

My father posed the question, but died before I got the answer. Hah!

Joe Dipinto 2:18 PM  

@Barbie 10:12 -- yeah, The Wailers would work better as Banshee's favorite band, or Howlin' Wolf as favorite singer. @Ryan must be correct with Sonic Youth but the connection there seems kind of flimsy -- just because Banshees make sounds?

Joe Dipinto 2:29 PM  

@Anon 1:31 -- I had the BI_L in place at 23a from the downs, so I knew it was going to be BILLY OCEAN. Agree FRANK would have been more cutting edge.

Anonymous 2:29 PM  

Don't give 'em the satisfaction. Your politics are wrong, but you're alright!!!

PS. I finally got my lazy self upt to he Cloisters. Wow!!!! Just wonderful.

Have a good Sunday

Unknown 2:48 PM  

Been doing these for years - Will Weng my favorite. But it seems that the puzzles are dumbed down of late.

Masked and Anonymous 2:50 PM  

And congratz to Alex Brinas on his debut, in a SunPuz, no less.

Wolverine's fave singer = DEBBIEHAIRY.

Dr. Strange's fave crossword puz: [see note, end of first M&A msg.]


Chance 3:27 PM  

@G. Weissman, you're a genius! That really is a much better answer.

Anyone else have a crossword blog?

Chance 4:27 PM  

@G. Weissman, fantastic answer!

Anyone else have crossword blog?

Anonymous 4:53 PM  

M&A, from Xwordinfo I think Alex Brinas is female, so congrats on her debut!

Keeping track of the number of female constructors is very important, right?

Trombone Tom 4:59 PM  

ED 1:58 Snort!

As to the puzzle, I did it last night and wasn't inspired to comment.

Anonymous 5:01 PM  

Yes. Was sure it should be TABS and TSA but was utterly confounded until ALLEGEDLY dropped, when I knew it wasn't frank.

Meg Greer 5:06 PM  

I enjoyed this puzzle and found it easy, but the parts I was most impressed by were 2 nine-letter-word answers, and 1 eleven-letter-word answer (3D, as mentioned by Rex, 67D and 80D). Correct me if I'm wrong, (not really guys) but it must be very hard to put these long words in a 21 x 21 grid.

Meg Greer 5:06 PM  

Yes, indeed!

Meg Greer 5:08 PM  

Give them hell, Nancy!

Meg Greer 5:11 PM  

I wrote down Frank Ocean, but corrected it right away when I got TSA, tabs, slit. I'm pretty old.

Meg Greer 5:19 PM  

PS – I got the second G in preggers, before I got the first G. I had UESS going down. It had to be GUESS so it couldn't be pregnant.

Joe Dipinto 5:34 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe Dipinto 5:44 PM  

myself 2:01 -- having googled Lady Deathstrike, it looks to me like the answer would be NINE INCH NAILS, though the word count should read (4,4,5) not (13).

Anonymous 5:53 PM  

Nay/yadig were the only sticking points for me. Has anyone said 'Ya dig?' since 1970?

Art F 5:57 PM  

@Joe Dipinto re NAY:

"Not only that but also" means "in addition". Had it said "Not merely that but, more aptly", I could see it as equivalent to NAY. "The crowd appeared restless, nay, angry."

Anonymous 5:59 PM  

I wish I had a government job with a huge salary so i could afford to buy an NFL game ticket in order to throw it away.
Guess TAS is catching.

Joe Dipinto 6:30 PM  

@Art F -- "Her refusal of my invitation was unexpected -- nay, rude!" Two different things.

Jenny Sabol 7:20 PM  

What is with the John Cougar video? A great watch, but I'm a bit confused.

semioticus (shelbyl) 7:27 PM  

People who don't like today's puzzle should be sent to Crossword Hell where they have to solve the last zillion horrible Sunday puzzles over and over again till they give up and yell "I'm sorry! Graded on a curve 10/8/17 was one of the best Sunday puzzles in recent memory and I was being a spoiled brat! Please let me out of here!!!"

Just saying.

Two Ponies 7:40 PM  

I wrote in 120A Ode without much hesitation but just now got around to looking it up. I was surprised that it is Keats "Ode on a Grecian Urn." Perhaps I am a Neanderthal but I did not recognize the clue. It seems like that ode is often in crosswords so now I'll see who I can impress with this trivia. No one, I'm sure.

@Alan_S 12:10, I did not know "Feel me" but if I have to spend time in an inner city watching the Wire I'll just try to get by somehow.

Andrew Goodridge 7:47 PM  

I liked it, but it kinda bugs me that 8/10 themers are superheroes and 2/10 are super villains. I’m not a stickler for absolute consistency the way Rex can be, but it does feel a little unbalanced to have 80% good guys and 20% bad guys.

Z 8:12 PM  

@r.alphbunker - Yep.

@Jenny Sabol - Here’s my best guess.

jberg 8:32 PM  

I liked the theme, many instances of that were either non-obvious or ridiculout -- a good point, IMHO. And thanks to an anonymouse for putting the state-names joke in it's proper form. I really cringed at the "I don't know" in the clue.

@Nancy, I'm happily married and not at all angling to run off with you -- but I do wnat to say that to call you a "whiner" is extraordinarily ignorant. What I've always admired about you is that you state your own values quietly and positively, and mention when the puzzle doesn't fit those values. As a rule, you have been careful to say that a puzzle doesn't interest you, rather than that the puzzle is bad. I've always admired that.

Meanwhile, those of you who condemn @Rex because he's a professor but doesn't know some particular thing really need to go get PhDs and strt teaching yourselves. C'mon, the country needs you!

Casey Ruble 12:37 AM  

Was totally digging this puzzle when I plopped down the great FRANKOCEAN for 23A just seconds after opening the NYT magazine -- only to realize a few minutes later that if 112A was FRANKZAPPA, it must be another Ocean. Wracked my brain back to my younger years and somehow dredged up middle-school memories of BILLY singing a song about ladies and the back seats of cars, which I only dimly understood then, though all the "popular" kids had already made an art of getting down in the parking lot of Hardee's and Burger King to this song and Taylor Dayne's "Tell It to My Heart." Thank god for the repression of memories....
That said, the puzzle was a fun & clever -- if very easy -- solve, even if I still don't understand what Lil Wayne has to do with Batman. Was delighted when I realized that 114A required knowledge only that these were all SUPERheros that might be in an inferred SUPERGROUP rather than part of some specific X-Men or other commercial ensemble that I have the least interest in remembering the name of....

Hartley70 1:40 AM  

I finally got to this and found it great fun. Then again, the musicians were familiar so I had a leg up right until my final entry MOI. I had to stare for a while before DOI came into focus.

@'mericans, Diana Krall and Mel Brooks under one roof is my idea of concert heaven. Loved your exchange with Mel!

@Nancy, you tell 'em. Nobody does it better!

TartanCalf 9:34 AM  

Not sure why, but I finished in record time. Best ever for a Sunday. Do you all know each other outside of this blog? You seem like bickering siblings from a smart, but somewhat dysfunctional family that I wish I was part of! We just celebrated Thanksgiving here in Canada yesterday and not one person in my entire clan has ever even attempted a crossword puzzle. Switched at birth I'm certain!

Unknown 10:40 AM  

It's not about banshees as a fantasy creature but Banshee from X-Men, who affects things with sonic waves.

Josie 2:45 PM  

Me too! Did t bother finishing this one. Boooorrrrring!!

Beauchamp 3:16 PM  

Banshee fav is Yoko Ono

Beauchamp 3:20 PM  

Beast: Five Finger Death Punch (who, serendipitously, I met once in Las Vegas.)

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crackblind 5:36 PM  

Sorry, as a geek who just spent the entire weekend at NY ComicCon, I have to take some umbrage with your dismissal of Iceman. Yes, he may only be one of the founding members of the X-Men, but more important, he is responsible for one of the best verbal exchanges with the Hulk ever! During a mistaken battle with the Hulk (he's trying to save his cousin Jennifer's life), this happens:

Seriously, it's worth clicking through for the linguistic gymnastics and Iceman's realization of the obviousness of his name.

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RonL 7:49 PM  

I think MCHAMMER dates the puzzle. That rapper changed his moniker to Hammer years ago and later changed it to P. Diddy. Who knows what it is now (if he’s still a “thing”).

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spacecraft 11:36 AM  

Easy except for the NE: who is ARCADEFIRE? I got the FIRE part, of course, but the rest went in square by square. I can't believe we weren't treated to a recording of Mitch Miller's song about the states ("What did Delaware?", etc.) In case you were wondering, the answer is "She wore a brand New Jersey." You weren't. I knew that.

This was a pleasant little piece of fluff. I didn't even mind the rappers, because they're so well known even to me, and the theme clues locked them in. Notably absent is the often strained-to-the-breaking-point fill that usually haunts the larger grid. Kudos to this PAIR for keeping it so clean.

A full name DOD is always nice to see: TAYLORSWIFT, take a bow. I didn't read the blogs because I anticipated a YOW! about the housewife clue. We don't call them that any more, but I'm not offended. Birdie.

Burma Shave 12:18 PM  




Diana, LIW 1:05 PM  

@Spacey - did your housemate get changed to a housewife?

"Too bad Arkin Saw boys, so did Tenna See, It made poor Flora Die boys, she died in Mizz Or Ee you see." Follow the bouncing ball.

Better than average Sunday. Fun to figure out the groups.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Anonymous 1:24 PM  

I'd be willing to bet I've heard all of these artists on MPR's 89.3 The Current. ARCADEFIRE is a staple, especially since their Grammy for Album of the Year in 2011. COLDPLAY not uncommonly heard. BILLYOCEAN and THESPINNERS more likely on the history highlights or time capsule or morning coffee break segments. I don't think there's another station like it anywhere. Stream it:

Glad to see FRANKZAPPA in the mix. Musical genius. @centralscrewtinizer may have something to say about that???

YMA is back with the sumac and not poisonous. Complemented by yeah baby UMA. NAY, but the FORREAL yeah baby of the day is the complete TAYLORSWIFT. YOW. OHWOW. OOH. GRR. YES'M.

SONOFA gun, a nice Sun-puz.

rondo 1:25 PM  

Tech difficulty. The above was me

AnonymousPVX 5:03 PM  

(1) what’s with all the spam parading as comments? Nothing to screen this out?

Anyway....I liked this puzzle, gimmick theme and all. Nice clueing, no off the wall stuff....okay maybe 93A was a poser, but still, one of the more enjoyable Sunday puzzles of late.

Unknown 1:25 PM  


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